Who doesn’t like cotton candy? It is one of those foods typically eaten at fairs, amusement parks, ball games etc. Cotton candy is a treat, part of the fun. It starts out as a weightless ball bigger than your head and unlike some candies, there is no attempt to dress it up as anything other than what it is, pure spun sugar.
It looks substantial on the stick but as soon as we rip off a piece and pop it in our mouth it melts to almost nothing, just air flavored with sugar and food coloring with no illusions to being anything other than fun food. Soon the reasons why we vowed never to buy it again come flooding back, especially if you are responsible for the clean up of the 8 and under crowd. We will be lured by it again in the future, blotting out the previous experiences until too late. Such is cotton candy.
Spiritual Cotton Candy
No one in their right mind would consider making a meal of cotton candy. The cotton candy we eat makes no illusions to or represents itself as anything other than what it is. Spiritual cotton candy, however, is often presented as something substantive and can be deadly. You have heard the vacuous platitudes and clichés often spouted with an air of deep significance.
In recovery meetings cotton candy cliches runs the gambit from: “let us love you until you can love yourself,” “the newcomer is the most important person in the room,” “this is a we program,” “there is no wrong way to work the steps,” “God can be anything you want it to be: a doorknob, a tree, a chair, the group-anything at all.”
Spiritual cotton candy comes in a variety of colors, but it’s all still just sugar air. No harm is meant by those vending this candy.
Is the 12-step program of AA a “we program?” No one can decide for you if you are willing to turn your will and life over to the care of God. “We” don’t write your fourth step inventory. “We” don’t pay your bills or raise your kids. “We” are directed to meditate every morning but how many of the “we” people show up for coffee?
“The Newcomer most important person in the room?” To whom? God? One day you are important and then cross an invisible line and aren’t? Nonsense. All are equal in His eyes.
“Let us love you until you can love yourself.” This comment belongs on a Hallmark card. When we are Living on the Spiritual Basis we know that the only love that will set us free is the love of God.
Is there “no wrong way to do the 12-step work?” Then why do folks resign and resume (and relapse)?
God can be “anything?” As a wise man said, “when God can be anything; then God is nothing.” Not convinced? Repeat after me out loud: “I, (your name here) turn my will and my life over to the care and direction of: (pick your favorite: chair, doorknob, tree, ocean, whatever). ”
Spiritual cotton candy. Looks good, sounds good, feels good but in the end is just sugar.
– Vince Jones, Sober Living by the Sea Lecturer
See Vince Jones’ Blog Thought For the Day to read more of his thoughts about AA and recovery.
Vince Jones is a great lecturer at Sober Living by the Sea and in this blog entry he brings his trademark sense of humor and wisdom about the 12-step program of AA to warn recovering people not to accept everything they hear at an AA meeting. Vince’s message of spiritual recovery can be accessed from all of Sober Living by the Sea’s programs inlcuding programs that provide addiction treatment for men exclusively as well as those that provide addiction treatment for women.
BIO: Fifteen years ago I developed a teaching curriculum that emphasizes a return to the roots of the process, to recapture the early success rates. I have worked with over a thousand individuals in the ensuing years and though I was sure at the beginning, I am convinced today that those early success rates can be recaptured for I have seen it happen. Additionally, the principles will work for any who are suffering if they are willing, honest and remain open minded. As well as teaching these principles at Sober Living By The Sea I teach them to at risk High School students.